Friday, May 09, 2008

Shake the Dust Off Your Sandals

Matthew 8:28-34

This is the story of Jesus healing the two demon possessed men living in the tombs. The region is part of the Decapolis and was considered Gentile territory which is one reason why there was a herd of pigs nearby. In the previous verses (23-27) Jesus displayed His power over creation by calming the winds and the waves. Here His power of the spiritual world is displayed. The demons recognized Jesus right away. They felt a disturbance in the Force! With one word Jesus cast them into the herd of pigs. R.T. France (NICNT-Matthew) mentioned that most Biblical references to demons show that they prefer a host. Apparently pigs worked but I doubt they expected Jesus to send the unclean herd over the cliff!

What is interesting is the two men are not mentioned again, but the pig herdsmen went to town to mention what happened and town representatives came out to Jesus and asked Him to leave. He must have cost them a few drachma by drowning the pigs. They begged Him to leave. Jesus was not a Messianic symbol to these Gentiles, but a Jewish mystical, holy man that they wanted nothing to do with. The Jews, as we know from the scriptures, will turn against him as well. This experience helps us understand what Jesus will instruct His disciples in 10:14 when He tells them "to shake the dust from your feet as you leave a home or city that will not receive you or hear your words."

As preachers of the Gospel, we can not make people listen or make a decision. We are not there to win a popularity contest but to preach the Gospel with accuracy, clarity and in love. If we are rejected or unwanted, it is not us but the Word of God and Jesus Christ they are rejecting. We have done our job and we need to move on. I pray that I never have to shake the dust off my sandals, but I have been given my traveling orders.